Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First 'Atlas' Of Key Brain Genes Could Speed Research On Cancer, Neurological Diseases

Date:
January 12, 2005
Source:
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Summary:
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have compiled the first atlas showing the locations of crucial gene regulators, or switches that determine how different parts of the brain develop – and, in some cases, develop abnormally or malfunction. The scientists say the map will accelerate research on brain tumors and neurological diseases that result from mutations in these switch genes – called "transcription factors."

BOSTON -- Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have compiled the first atlas showing the locations of crucial gene regulators, or switches that determine how different parts of the brain develop – and, in some cases, develop abnormally or malfunction. The scientists say the map will accelerate research on brain tumors and neurological diseases that result from mutations in these switch genes – called "transcription factors." When these genes are altered, the genes they control can go awry, causing abnormalities in the development or function of nerves and related structures.

Although the gene regulators were pinpointed using mouse brains, the map applies to the human brain as well. "This is the first systematic mapping of all of the major brain areas that shows what regulatory genes are expressed in those specific locations," said Quifu Ma, PhD, of Dana-Farber's Cancer Biology Department. He is senior author of a paper appearing in today's online issue of the journal Science, along with Charles D. Stiles, PhD, also of Dana-Farber.

Transcription factors are genes that control the expression, or activity, of "target" genes. These factors play a pivotal role in brain development by direction the formation of neurons and supporting cells called glia from uncommitted progenitor cells. Until now, brain transcription factors had not been systematically isolated and their locations within different parts of the brain pinned down.

The map should tell scientists studying different parts of the brain, which transcription factor (TF) genes regulate the development of that brain region, and which of them to investigate as possible causes of brain tumors and other diseases.

The Dana-Farber researchers already have homed in on specific TF genes regulating nerves involved in pain sensation, certain brain tumors, and speech problems caused by abnormally developing motor neurons that control muscles of the tongue.

The map, known as the Mahoney Transcription Factor Atlas, has been placed online where it is freely accessible to researchers studying brain development and disorders. To compile the atlas, the investigators first sifted through databases of information from the Human Genome Project, singling out all genes in the mouse that appeared to be transcription factors: they turned up 1445 of them. Next, they determined that more than 1,000 of these TF's were expressed in the brains of developing mice. Using genetic probes to investigate thin sections of mouse brains, the scientists found that only 349 of the TF genes were expressed in specific regions, and not throughout the brain, as the majority were. They inferred that these 349 genes, therefore, controlled the development of the particular areas or structures in which they were uniquely expressed.

"This is a manageable subset of transcription factors that are spatially restricted," said Stiles. "This tells you that a particular transcription factor is involved in the formation of some specific kind of cell." Stiles is pursuing TF's that direct the formation of astrocytes, which are affected in tumors called gliomas. David Rowitch, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber and an author on the paper, studies transcription factors in the brain's cerebellum, where tumors called medulloblastomas occur, and Ma has identified TF's that regulate the nerves involved in the sensation of specific types of pain. Ma's laboratory is focused on the stubborn problem of cancer pain: He and his students are screening the atlas for transcription factors that regulate development of the neurons that generate the severe pain that is a common symptom of metastatic tumors.

###

The research was funded by the Charles Dana Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and individual fellowships.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "First 'Atlas' Of Key Brain Genes Could Speed Research On Cancer, Neurological Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 January 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111173951.htm>.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. (2005, January 12). First 'Atlas' Of Key Brain Genes Could Speed Research On Cancer, Neurological Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111173951.htm
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "First 'Atlas' Of Key Brain Genes Could Speed Research On Cancer, Neurological Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050111173951.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

Two US Ebola Patients Leave Hospital Free of the Disease

AFP (Aug. 21, 2014) Two American missionaries who were sickened with Ebola while working in Liberia and were treated with an experimental drug are doing better and have left the hospital, doctors say on August 21, 2014. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) Contains graphic content. He's only 17. But Johntrell Bowles has wanted to be a doctor from a young age, despite the odds against him. He was recently the youngest participant in a cadaver program at the Indiana University NW medical school. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) It's unclear whether the American Ebola patients' recoveries can be attributed to an experimental drug or early detection and good medical care. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins